In performance: Magic Flute (Summer Music Festival 2010)
"Flute" gives experience to promising cast-in-progress
by Joe Banno
The sparely designed, minimally staged, keyboard-accompanied performance of Mozart's "The Magic Flute" at Catholic University's Ward Hall on Friday evening placed the spotlight squarely on an ensemble of young singers who are just finishing a two-week intensive course of vocal and dramatic studies as part of the Summer Music Festival 2010 -- a joint venture of the university and Bel Cantanti Opera Company.
(read more after the jump)
These singers, many of whom have yet to finish their college music degrees, were by and large a promising lot, though even the best of them displayed weak spots in their voices. The young talents showed strain at the high or low extremes of their ranges, wayward intonation in challenging passages, patches of uneven tone and so on -- that will surely improve with time and further study.
Most impressive were the richly shimmering glow of soprano Christina Massimei's Pamina, Eric Olsen's virile and focused tenor as Tamino, bass Patrick Guetti's rolling, impressively weighty sound as Sarastro, and soprano Tamara Tucker as the Queen of the Night, who knocked off some daunting coloratura with bright, pinging, accurately placed high notes.
Weaknesses were more evident on the dramatic side (which so often takes a back seat to vocal training) as lackluster, generalized acting turned strong roles into ciphers. Spoken dialogue -- Kryptonite for even the starriest of singers -- was treated with wince-inducing amateurishness except by Guetti, the lone singer here able to deliver non-sung text in a credible way, and baritone Charlie Hyland (the evening's appealing, handsomely sung Papageno), who made a brave stab at the comedy.
-- Joe Banno
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